Target: Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki
Goal: Prevent the execution of a man convicted on the basis of a confession made under torture
Khaled Khalifa Mahmud, a husband and father of two, has been accused and convicted of “terrorist activities.” His conviction comes largely as a result of his own “confession,” which he later recanted and claimed was made under torture. No investigation has been made into Mahmud’s allegations of torture, and his execution could go forward at any time. Ensure that justice is done; urge Iraqi authorities to reexamine Mahmud’s case and ensure that his conviction is based on sound evidence, and call on authorities to commute his sentence and those of all other death row inmates in Iraq.
Mahmud was arrested in 2006 by the Multi-National Force (MNF) headed by the United States. He was accused of being involved with an armed attack on a home that left one man dead. After spending nearly two years in detention near Baghdad, Mahmud was transferred to another facility and released. He was immediately rearrested by Iraqi security forces and charged with the same crime. The Court acknowledged Mahmud’s renunciation of his earlier confession but allowed it as evidence nevertheless, and he was convicted and sentenced to death.
Iraq maintains that all death sentences are reviewed by the Court of Cassation before they are allowed to go forward. “However,” Amnesty International reports, “the Court of Cassation regularly fails to address the admission by trial courts of contested evidence, including withdrawn ‘confessions’ and allegations of coercion and torture, when approving death sentences at the review stage. The generally paper-based procedure fails to give defendants a genuine review.”
All people accused of crimes have the right to be treated humanely and to plead their cases in a just, impartial environment. Khaled Khalifa Mahmud has been denied these rights. Stand up and demand justice for Kahled Khalifa Mahmud.
I am writing to express my grave concern over the fate of Khaled Khalifa Mahmud, whose death sentence was upheld by the Court of Cassation in 2010. In a 2012 complaint filed with authorities, Mahmud alleged that he had been subjected to electric shocks and other torture and ill-treatment while in custody. He has long maintained that the “confession” which resulted in his conviction had been forced by means of torture. I urge you to reexamine the evidence–true, non-contested evidence–in his case and ensure that he receives a fair and just hearing. I also urge you to commute his sentence, if need be, as well as the sentences of any other death row inmates.
Under international law, Iraq has a responsibility to ensure that anyone accused of a crime is treated fairly and humanely. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), defendants have the right to be present for any appeals, a requirement which the paper-based appeals process of the Court of Cassation does not meet. Furthermore, the law under which Mahmud was convicted–Law 13 of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2005–is vaguely worded and covers a variety of offenses. According to Amnesty International, “the vast majority of death sentences in recent years are believed to have been imposed” under this law.
All people, no matter their alleged crimes, have the right to a fair trial and humane treatment. This right is doubly important in cases like Mahmud’s, where a person’s life hangs in the balance. Do not allow the pursuit of justice for one person to disregard justice for another. Reexamine Khaled Khalifa Mahmud’s case, and take steps to eliminate the death penalty entirely from Iraqi criminal proceedings.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Patrick Feller via Flickr